1

I have been using と as a way of using 'and' to list things together.

In the instance of joining two self contained sentences together would this be where で is used to mean 'and' or would と still be used? I only recently discovered で can be used to mean 'and' and I'm confused on when it's used over と.

5

As a general rule, と is only used for listing nouns - whether they be concrete objects like 砂糖とミルクと小麦粉 "sugar and milk and flour", abstract concepts like 愛と勇気 "love and courage", or entire nominalised ideas like 彼と一緒にいられないことと、私自身の心の弱さ "not being able to be with him, and my own inner weakness".

For joining full clauses or sentences, と doesn't usually work (unless you turn one of those clauses into a noun in some way, such as using the expression それと "in addition...", where それ is a pronoun representing the previous statement).

For joining clauses, there are a number of strategies, including the で you're referring to, which is the て-form of the copula だ. More generally, the て-form of any verb can be used to link two clauses, as can the ます-stem.

So for instance the two sentences

それは犬だ。これは猫だ。
That is a dog. This is a cat.

can be linked together by turning だ into its て-form で:

それは犬で、これは猫だ。
That is a dog and this is a cat.

Using と here would not work (それは犬だとこれは猫だ actually has a completely different meaning "If that is a dog, then this is a cat", because the separate conditional particle と can be used to link clauses in this way).

Similarly the two sentences

私は公園に行く。友達に会う。
I go to the park. I meet my friend.

can be linked together either by turning 行く into its て-form 行って:

私は公園に行って友達に会う。
I go to the park and meet my friend.

or by instead using its ます-stem 行き:

私は公園に行き、友達に会う。
I go to the park and meet my friend.

If in doubt which to use, the て-form is usually the safer option; it's pretty neutral and appropriate for most registers, whereas the ます-stem sounds more academic, formal or literary, and so can seem oddly stilted in many contexts.

Note that both of these forms, particularly the て-form, tend to imply a sequential relationship if one can apply, so just as in English, the sentences above strongly suggest that you went to the park and then met your friend (though the equivalent sentence about the dog and cat implies no temporal relationship since it would make no sense).

There are of course various other ways of linking two full clauses, such as using one of a variety of conjunctions, or using a relative clause to describe a noun, but the て-form and ます-stem are the most basic form that would generally equate to the use of "and" in English.

  • Thank you for such an in-depth answer! This clears everything up perfectly. – gigaflux0 Mar 7 '18 at 16:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.